Projects per year
“In a field of tall grass, with only the wind for company, there is a language that transcends the differences between scientific and traditional understandings, the data or the prayer.” --Robin Kimmerer, Potawatomi botanist, in Braiding Sweetgrass (2014).
Back to Indigenous Futures heeds Kimmerer’s plea for alternative ways of apprehending the world around us, modes that can recognize and go beyond the violent histories that favor systems that know only in terms of data over deeper and older indigenous knowledge systems that are often also expressed through prayer. Addressing two Grand Challenge goals -- enhancing individual and community capacity for a changing world and fostering just & equitable societies – the project partners with Upper and Lower Sioux Dakota communities as they themselves partner with migrant Pacific islanders from Micronesia, now residing in rural west MniSota, in a shared effort to revitalize their respective cultural traditions and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) about watercraft and water-related ceremonies, rituals, and practices. Centering indigenous and decolonial values and principles, and deploying participatory action research methods, Back to Indigenous Futures integrates the work of humanities and humanistic social and applied sciences in American Indian and Global Indigenous studies with participatory action for TEK preservation, teaching, and research in both Architecture and Computer Science to design mixed reality experiences that integrate physical architecture with virtual embodied simulations of canoes in water, waves, and wind while also assisting in community-identified needs. Sensing the potential impact on teaching, practice, and research within these disciplines as just as important as the products, we ask, how might TEK-integrated teaching and research lead to more socially conscious and equitable designers, technologies, engineers, scientists, and scholars, and also make our work beneficial for indigenous community? This project has potential to cast the University of Minnesota into the winds of national and international leadership in research through indigenous community-based partnership at the interphase of computer science, design, humanities, indigenous
environmentalism and community and nation-building.